HARRISBURG, Pa. — Several members of the Wolf Administration visited with crew members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Youth Crew during its first week at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.
Created under the Wolf administration, the program offers young people the opportunity to serve on a team and complete conservation projects that protect, enhance, and restore Pennsylvania's public lands.
Participants are also taught about public service, and the program provides job skills and ethics to make the participants better employees in the future.
Over 900 young people have completed the program.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier, Office of Administration (OA) Secretary Michael Newsome and Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams all visited the program Wednesday.
"I am always energized by these visits and enjoy spending time with our future leaders as we are doing today,” said Dunn.
Dunn noted how the program targets underserved communities to increase awareness about conservation and add to the diversity of young people who have an interest in natural resource protection jobs.
“We want the next generation of conservationists to come out of our diverse city,” said Williams. “This program, should we be so fortunate to make it an annual event, will give kids here something to do in the summer when they’re out of the classroom, as a way to put back into the community and make it more beautiful and safer."
Pa. Outdoor Corps members this year are working in more than 100 parks, forests, and communities across the state on projects. These include:
- Trail work
- Habitat enhancement
- Improving park and forest assets such as buildings, drainage structures and landscaped areas
- Tree planting
- Storm damage restoration
- Inventorying trees planted in communities
In 2016, the program launched with just five youth crews. This year there are 23 crews across the commonwealth.
- Thirteen six-week youth (ages 15-18) crews based in: Erie; Greensburg; Harrisburg; Hazleton; Pittsburgh (two crews: community and American Sign Language); Reading; Renovo; Ridgeway; Wellsboro; Wilkes-Barre; Williamsport; and York.
- Ten 10-month young adult (ages 18-25) crews are based in Altoona; Harrisburg; Meadville; Pittsburgh; Saint Mary's; Wilkes Barre; Williamsport; and statewide Natural Resource, Cultural Resource, and Trail crews.
Berrier said the experiences the crews have during their programs will help them throughout the rest of their life
“Outdoor Corps not only gives young people a chance to gain the lifelong skills needed to be successful in their future careers, but it gives them meaningful experiences as they engage with and learn about Pennsylvania’s natural resources,” Berrier said. “Any opportunity for Pennsylvanians to earn while they learn is at the foundation of a successful workforce model."
The corps is managed by DNCR and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and is supported through funding provided by L&I, as well as philanthropic partners.
For more information about the Pa. Outdoor Corps, visit its website here.